Judge’s Q&A: Jane Austin

Judge’s Q&A: Jane Austin


Judge: Jane Austin
Role: Head of UX at The Telegraph

  1. Do you have a favourite app & website in terms of the design and user experience?

    Interestingly, I’ve just realised loads of my favorite apps are to do with travelling and getting from A toB.

    I love Uber. I love how it knows exactly what problem it is solving and focuses relentlessly on that. Everything is centered around convenience, and getting that exactly right means that people will pay those surge prices to get a cab when they want, no waiting. It has come into a crowded marketplace and because of their focus and amazing execution and design they are getting increasingly more customers.

    I’m a huge fan of AirBnB too, both beautifully designed and a pleasure to use. It’s a fantastic example of design, technology and product coming together to make something excellent that solves a problem in a novel and useful way.

    Citymapper is fantastic so well designed with little touches of humour, and I love the new Trainline app redesign – you can just tell it’s had the hard edges sanded off by regular, good user research until its just a simple pleasure to use.

    Despite my comments in a moment about Easyjet, I do like their app and how easy it is to check in with it – and I also don’t need to print out loads of paper, just scan my phone. That’s fantastic.

    I also love Soundcloud’s new app, its something I use almost daily and its great.

  1. Which industries, in your opinion, tend to deliver the worst user experiences, and why?

    Airlines. Ryanair are fiendishly cunning in their attempts to charge you more in a variety of ways, eg by sneaking your option to remove the insurance they add onto your ticket in the country drop down. It’s the work of a twisted genius.

    And easyJet force you to check in online or they will sell your seat. The deliberately oversell 10% of their seat allocation now. Its penalizing people like my dad who gets confused about how to check in online. It’s a horrible form of digital exclusion.

  2. What has been the greatest game changer in the UX and usability sectors over the past 10 years?

    For me, it’s the incredible work at GDS. They’ve shown the importance of having an in-house UX, design and research team, as creating good quality digital products come from changing the culture as much as doing good work.

    They also showed the importance of doing regular user research and iterative design. This has become so obvious now, and so many people are doing it, that its hard to remember what a game changer this was.

  3. What do you think are the biggest challenges companies face utilising UX?

    Finding good people – there’s a definite skills shortage right now. And once you have found someone good – have you found the right kind of good? There is an incredible range of UX skills and it is possible for someone to have all of them, so what subset of those skills do you need, and does the person you hire have them?

    Also, companies need to listen to their customers and design their websites and apps to face them, rather than be inward focused – creating great products that meet user needs is not possible unless you really know your user and are prepared to act on this knowledge. Companies who want to keep doing the same thing as that’s what they’ve always done, who have execs who won’t listen to research as they ‘know best’ and who put out a website or app and forget about it instead of testing, measuring, learning and continually improving are going to struggle in the future.

  4. Do you have any UX pet peeves?
    People who don’t listen to research and plough on regardless
  5. If you could have any super power what would it be and why?

    Bringing joy, happiness and peace wherever I go

    And being able to fly so I never have to deal with dodgy airline websites ever again.